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Never to see this faithless man again
Let me forbid his coming.
CAL. Oxa thy life,
I charge thee, no; my genius drives me on;
I must, I will behok him once again;
Perhaps it is the crisis of my fate,
And this one interview shall end my cares.
My labouring heart, that swells with indignation,
Heaves to discharge the burden; that once done
The busy thing shall rest within its cell,
And never beat again.
LUC. Trust not to that:
Rage is the shortest passion of our souls;
Like marrow brooks thast rise with sudden showers,
It swels in kaste, and faks again as soon;
Still as itebbs the softer thouglets kow in,
And the deceiver, Love, supplies its piace.
CAL. I have been wronged enough to arna my temper
Against the smooi h delusion; but, alas !
Chide not my weakness, gentle maid, but pity me
A woman's softness haags ahoat me stiil;
Then let me blush, and tell thee all my folly.
I swear I could not see the dear betrayer
Kneel at my feet, and sigh to be forgiven,
But my relenting heart would pardon all,
And quite sorget "twas ke that had undone me
Ha! Altamont! Calista, now be wary,
And guard thy soul's excesses with dissembling:
Nor let this hostile husband's eyes explore
The warring passions and tumultuous thoughts
That rage within thee, and deform thy reason.
The experiment of domestic tragedy, founded on sorrows incident to real life in the lower and widdling ranks, was tried with considerable success by WILLIAM LILLO (1693–1739), a jeweller in London. Lillo carried on business successfully for several years, dying with property to a considerable amount, and an estate worth £60 per annum. Possessing a literary taste, this industrious citizen devoted his leisure hours to the composition of three dramas, 'George Barnwell,' 'Fatal Curiosity,' and “Arden of Feverslam.' A tragedy on the latter subject had, it will be recollected, appeared about the time of Sliakspeare. At this early period of the drama, the style of Lillo may be said to have been also shadowed forth in the Yorkshire Tragedy,' and one or two other plays founded on domestic occurrences. These, however, were rude and irregular, and were driven off the stage by the romantic drama of Shakspeare and his successors. Lillo had a competent knowledge of dramatic art, and his style was generally smooth and easy. To the masters of the drama le stands in a position similar to that of Defoc, compared with Cervantes or Sir - Walier Scott. His George Barnwell describes the career of a Loudon apprentice hurried on to ruin and murder by an infamous woman, who at last delivers him up to justice and to an ignominious death. Tue characters are naturali, delineated; and we have no doubt it
was correctly said that 'George Barnwell’ drew more tears than the rants of 'Alexander the Great. His • Fatal Curiosity' is a far liiglier work. Driven by destitution, an old man and his wife murder a rich stranger who takes shelter in their bouse, and tbey discover, but too late, that they have murdered their son, leturned atier a long absence. The harrowing details of this tragedy are powerfully depicted; and the agonies of old Wilmot, the father, constitute one of the most appalling and affecting incidents in the drama.
The execution of Lilio's plays is unequal, and some of his characters are dull and commonplace ; but he was a forcible painter of the dark shades of bumble life. His plays have not kept possession of ibe stage. The taste for murders and public executions has declined ; and Lillo was deficient in poetical and romantic feeling. The question, whether the familiar cast of his subjects was fitted to constitute a more genuine or only a subordinate walk in tragedy, is discussed by Campbell in the following eloquent paragraph :
Undoubtedly the genuine delineation of the human heart will please us, from whatever station or circumstances of life it is derived. In the simple pathos of tragedy, probably very little difference will be felt from the choice of characters being pitched above or below the line of mediocrity in station. But something more than pathos is required in tragediy; and the very pain ibat attends our sympathy requires agreeable and romantic associations of the fancy to be blended with its poignancy. Whatever attaches ideas of ip portance, publicity, and elevation to the object of pity,fornis a brightening and alluring medium to the imagination. Achens berself, with all her simplicity and democracy, delighted on the stage to
Let gorgeous Tragedy
la secptred pali come sweeping by. Even situations for depressed beneath the familiar mediocrity of life, are more picturesque and poetica) than its ordinary level. It is certainly on the virtues of the middling rank of life that the strength and comforts of society chiefly depend, in the same manner as we look for the barvest, not on cliffs and precipices, bui on the easy slope and the uniform plain. But the painter does not, in general, fix on level countries for the subjects of his noblest landscapes. There is an analogy, I conceive, to this in the moral painting of tragedy. Disparities of station give it boldness of outline. The commanding situations of life are its mountain scenery--the region where its storm and sunshine may be portrayed in their strongest contrast and colouring.'
Fatal Curiosity. YOUNG WILMOT, anknown, enters the house of his pareats and delivers them a casket, requestiug to retire an haur for rest.
Aanza the mother, alorie, with the easket in her hand.
AONES. Who should this stranger be? And then this casket
He says it is of value, and yet trusts ity
As if a trifle, to a stranger's hand.
His confidence annuz's me. Perhaps
It is not what he says. I'm strongly tempted
To open it and see. No; let it rest.
Why should my curiosity excite me
To search and pry into the affairs of others,
Who have to employ my thoughts so many cares
Aud sorrow's of my own? with how much ease
The spring gives way! Surprising ! most prodigious !
My eyes are dazzled, and my ravished heart
Leaps at the glorious sight. How bright's the lustre,
How immense the worth of those fair jewels !
Ay, such a treasure would expel for ever
Base poverty and all its abject train;
The mean devic:s we're reduced to use
To keep out famine, and preserve our lives
From day to day ; the cold neglect of friends;
The galling scorn, or more provoking pity
Of an insulting world. Possessed of these,
Plenty, content, and power, might take their turn,
And lofty pride bare its aspiring head
At our approach, and once more bend before us.
A pleasing dreain! 'Tis past; and now I wake
More wretched by the happiness I've lost;
For sure, it was a happiness to think,
Though but a moment, such a treasure mine.
Nay, it was more than thought. I saw and touched
The bright temptation, and I see it yet.
"Tis here--'tis mine-I have it in possession.
Must I resign it? Must I give it back?
Am I in love with misery and want,
To rob myself, and court so vast a loss ?
Retain it then. But how? There is a way.
Why sinks my heart? Why does my blood run cold ?
Why am I thrilled with horror ? 'Tis not choice,
But dire necessity, suggests the thought.
Enter OLD WILMOT.
OLD WILMOT. The mind contented, with how little pains
The wandering senses yield to soft repose,
And die to gain new life! He's fallen asleep
Already-happy man! What dost thou think,
My Agnes, of our unexpected guest ?
He seems to me a youth of great humanity :
Just ere he closed bis eyes, that swam in tears,
He wrung my hand, and pressed it to his lips;
And with a look that pierced me to the soul,
Begged me to comfort thee, and— Dost thou hear me ?
What art thou gazing on? Fie, 'tis not well.
This casket was delivered to you closed :
Why have you opened it? Should this be known,
How mean must we appear !
AGNES. And who shall know it?
0. WIL. There is a kind of pride, a decent dignity
Due to ourselves, which, spite of our misfortunes,
May be maintained and cherished to the last.
To live without reproach, and without leave
To quit the world. shews sovereign comtempt
And noble scorn of its relentless malice.
AGNES. Shews sovereign madness, and a scorn of sense !
Pursue no further this detested theme:
I will not die. I will not leave the world
For all that you can urge, until compelled.
0. Wil. To chase a shadow, when the sitting sun
Is darting his last rays, were just as wise
As your anxiety for Heeting life,
Now the last means for its support are failing:
Were tamine not as mortal as the sword,
This warmth might be excused. But take thy choice:
Die how you will, you shall not die alone.
AGNES. Nor live, I hope.
O, WIL. There is no fear of that.
AGNES. Then we'll live both.
O. WIL. Strange folly! Where's the means ?
AGNES. The means are there; those jewels.
0. WIL. Ha! take heed:
Perhaps thou dost but try me; yet take heed
There's nought so monstrous but the mind of man
In some condition may be brought to approve;
Theft, sacrilege, treason, and parricide,
When flattering opportunity enticed,
And desperation drove, have been committed
By those who once would start to hear them named.
AGNES. And add to these detested suicide, Which, by a crime much less, we may avoid.
0. WILThe inhospitable murder of our guest ? How couldst thou form a thought so very tempting, So advantageous, so secure, and easy ; And yet so cruel, and so full of horror ?
AGNES. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature,
To take another's life than end our own.
0. WIL. It is no matter, whether this or that
Be, in itself, the less or greater crime:
Howe'er we may deceive ourselves or others,
We act from inclination, not by rule,
Or none could act amiss. And that all err,
None but the conscious hypocrite denies.
Oh, what is man, his excellence and strength,
When in an hour of trial and desertion,
Reason, his nob'est power, may be suborned
To plead the cause of vile assassination !
AGNES. You're too severe : reason may justly plead For her own preservation.
O. WIL. Rest contented :
Whate'er resistance I may seem to make,
I am betrayed within : my will 's seduced,
And my whole soul infected. The desire
Of life returns, and brings with it a train
Of appetites, that rage to be supplied.
Whoever stånds to purley with temptation
Does it to be o'ercome.
AGNES. Then nought remains
But the swift execution of a deed
That is not to be thought on or delayed.
We must despatch him sleeping: should be wake,
'Twere madness to attempt it.
0. Wil. True, his strength,
Single, is more, much more than ours united;
So may bis life, perhaps, as far exceed
Ours in duration, should he 'scape this snare.
Generous, unhappy man! Oh, what could move thee
To put thy life und fortune in the hands
Of wretches mad with anguish!
AGNES. By what meaus ?
By stabbing, suffocation, or by strangling,
Shall we effect his death?
0. WIL. Why, what a fiend !
How cruel, how remorseless, how impatient,
Have pride and poverty made thee!
AGNES. Barbarous man!
Whose wasteful riots ruined our estate,
And drove our son, ere the first down had spread
His rosy cheeks, spite of my sad presages,
Earnest entreaties, agonies, and tears,
To seek his bread 'mongst strangers, and to perish
In some remote mhospitable land.
The loveliest youth in person and in mind
That ever crowned a grozning mother's pains !
Where was thy pity, where thy patience then ?
Thou cruel husband ! thou unnatural father!
Thou most remorseless, most ungrateful man!
To waste my fortune, rob me of iny son;
To drive me to despair, and then reproach me.
O. Wil. Dry thy tears:
I ought not to reproach thee. I confess
That thou hast suffered much: so have we both.
But chide no more : I'm wrought up to thy purpose.
The poor ill-fated unsuspecting victim,
Ere he reclined him on the fatal couch,
From which he's ne'er to rise, took off the sash
And costly dagger that thou saw'st him wear ;
And thus, unthinking, furnished us with arms
Against himself. What shall I use?
AGNES. The sash.
If you make use of that, I can assist.
Ó. WIL. No.
'Tis a dreadful office, and I'll spare
Thy trembling havds the guilt. Steal to the door,
And bring me word if he be still asleep.
Or I'm deceived, or he pronounced himself
The happiest of mankind. Deluded wretch !
Thy thoughts are perishing; thy youthful joys,
Touched by the icy hand of grisly death,
Are witbering in their bloom. But though extinguished,
He'll never know the loss, nor feel the bitter
Pangs of disappointment. Then I was wrong
In counting him a wretch: to die well pleased
Is all the happiest of mankind can hope for.
To be a wretch is to survive the loss
Of every joy, and even hope itself,
As I have done. Why do I mourn him then ?
For, by the anguish of my tortured soul,
He's to be envied, if compared with me.
WILLIAM CONGREVE. The comedies of CONGREVE abound more than any others, perhaps, in the English language, in witty dialogue and lively incident, but Teir licentiousness las banished them from the stage. The life of This eminent dramatic writer was a happy and prosperous one. He was born at Bardsey, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and baptised February 10, 1669-70. He was of a good family, and his father beld a military employment in Ireland, where the poet was educated-first at Kilkenny school, and then at Trinity College, Dublin. He studied